A Tale of Two Clinics

Saturday, October 22, 2011 Road Junkies 0 Comments

Boxing in the Heartland, Day 8

W.W. Mayo (from Wikipedia)
ROCHESTER, Minnesota — While posted in Rochester as a military surgeon during the Civil War, Dr. W. W. Mayo grew fond of the city and moved his wife and children here.  After the war, he opened a medical office in Rochester and later both his sons joined their father's practice.

After setting up a temporary infirmary to treat injuries from a devastating 1883 tornado, Mayo was convinced to work with the Sisters of Saint Francis, a religious order, to establish a hospital in Rochester.  In 1889, the plan was realized and Saint Marys Hospital began serving patients. 

Meanwhile, the medical practice of W.W. Mayo and his sons expanded as they hand-picked a group of talented physicians to establish what would become known as the Mayo Clinic.  Even after the death of the elder Dr. Mayo in 1911, the Mayo practice continued to grow in national stature as a pioneering medical center, particularly in the area of surgery.
Mayo Clinic's Plummer Building

The Mayo Clinic was converted from a private practice into a not-for-profit entity in 1919 with the same three-part focus it maintains today:  patient care, research, and education.  Today Mayo Clinic owns and operates more than 70 hospitals and clinics in the Midwest and several medical colleges.  Major Mayo Clinic campuses are located in Jacksonville, FL, and Scottsdale, AZ, in addition to the original in Rochester.  In Rochester alone, Mayo employs more than 30,000.

Consistently rated among the top hospitals in the U.S., Mayo Clinic has established an outstanding international reputation for innovative, far-reaching breakthroughs in medical practice.

Ten years before the Mayos helped open Saint Marys, another hospital opened in Rochester-- the Second Minnesota Hospital for the Insane, later known as Rochester State Hospital.  This hospital became home to people whose conditions today might be treated in a facility like the Mayo Clinic, if they required hospitalization at all.

Rochester State Hospital

After the death of her son, Lillian Schuenman endured a nervous breakdown which landed her in Rochester State in the early 1940s.  In an attempt to relieve her depression and calm her anxiety, doctors there performed two lobotomies on her.  Twenty years later, she died, still a patient at the hospital, and was buried in an anonymous grave on the hospital grounds.

Other patients were institutionalized for such conditions as alcoholism, Downs Syndrome, or even menopause. Electroshock treatments were common. Between 1886 and 1965, more than 2,000 Rochester State patients were laid to rest in unmarked graves in a cemetery tucked away in the woods.

Rochester State Cemetery at Quarry Hill Park
Rochester State Hospital closed its doors in 1965, and the property was purchased by the city of Rochester.  Today, the grounds of this once baneful institution have been transformed into Quarry Hill Park and Nature Center, a haven for recreation and education and a joint effort of the city's parks department and school district.

A group of local citizens has organized to honor the memory of hospital residents who were interred at this site and to respectfully identify each with a named headstone.  They strive to help others remember this part of Rochester’s history and learn from the injustices of the past. 

One city, two hospitals-- one a source of honor and acclaim, the other a past many want to forget.

ROAD NOISE:
  • Last month we saw some Maclura pomifera trees in Tennessee.  What attracted our attention were the bumpy, spherical, baseball-size fruits growing on the tree.  We saw quite a few of these trees while letterboxing in the Nashville area and even found ourselves playing "dodgeball" with the fruit dropping from the trees in the heart of autumn.  Called Osage orange, hedgeapple, hedgeball, and even horseball, the fruit is not edible by humans. Although it is not strongly poisonous, eating it has been known to cause vomiting.  Animals also do not eat this fruit, though squirrels occasionally go after the seeds inside, which are safe.  

  • Add some to your potato salad?
    Today in Rochester, we saw this inedible fruit in the produce section of a local grocery store.  Both folk legend and research suggest that the hedgeball may be effective as an insect repellent.  In fact, some researchers have claimed that a chemical extractable from the fruit may be as effective as DEET in repelling mosquitoes.

    It's a fruit, so you display it in the produce department?  And hope everyone who buys it reads the sign indicating it's not edible?  Or would it be more appropriately shelved with the Off! and Raid?  When's the last time you saw a box of d-CON next to the asparagus?
DAILY STATS:
  • Started in Rochester, MN;  ended in Rochester, MN
  • Miles driven:  47
  • States:  1 (MN)
  • Letterboxes found:  11 (in Quarry Hill Park)
  • Kids at Quarry Hill Park and Nature Center:  346
  • High school volleyball players staying at our hotel:  112
More Photos from Today

Rochester State Hospital Cemetery
Headstone in RSH Cemetery
Plaque at RSH Cemetery
Recycling at its best
Peace Plaza, downtown Rochester